With the rise of cancellations and time changes, the Record-Herald took time on Monday to check on the various grocery stores in Fayette County to see how they are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to corporate affairs manager with Kroger, Amy McCormick, the grocery chain decided to reduce hours at many of their stores, including the Washington Court House Kroger store. As of Monday, McCormick said they decided to reduce the local store to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
“We decided to do this to allow our employees additional time to restock shelves and do cleaning throughout the store,” McCormick said. “They are cleaning during the day when customers are shopping as well, but this change allows additional time for that in addition to being able to restock shelves.”
McCormick also said that all stores are currently receiving shipments daily of various supplies. She suggested that if there is something specific a customer is looking for, they should stop in and take a look.
“The store is getting products delivered daily,” McCormick said. “We encourage the community to be patient. A lot of folks are looking for things and are shopping a little more than normal. So we just ask customers be patient with our teams when they are in the store and we appreciate them coming in and supporting us during this time.”
McCormick said that no changes in employment status have occurred due to the virus.
In a similar move, the usually 24-hour Walmart will also be reducing hours in an effort to help keep the building clean and products stocked.
“As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, we know it is top of mind for our customers,” a recent press release from Walmart said. “We see it in the items people are buying and hear it in the conversations we’re having in our stores. So we believe it’s important to share the steps we are taking to keep our people safe and our facilities clean. We are monitoring this situation daily, and, as we do with any unusual event, we will watch what’s happening locally and adjust business operations and policies as needed. We are in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other health organizations, and are following their guidelines as well as the advice of our own Chief Medical Officer.”
According to the press release, stores are looking for easier ways to sanitize shopping carts since seeing an increase in foot traffic. They are increasing the amount of cleaning supplies being sent to sanitize places like the registers and carts. Additionally, the press release states they are working to keep stores stocked and prices fair.
“As one would expect, paper products, cleaning supplies and other items are in high demand as customers prepare for the possible impact of COVID-19,” the press release said. “We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores. We have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand. Online, we are taking a firm stance related to the potential for price gouging by third-party sellers. Violations of our seller pricing policy and seller prohibited items policy will not be tolerated and will be resolved quickly.”
Walmart also shared new policies that give employees additional flexibility to stay home if they are not feeling well and pay options and support if they are affected by the virus.
Finally, Save-A-Lot Assistant Store Manager Trevor Bennett said the Washington C.H. store is also altering hours to give its employees time to clean and restock. Currently, they are expecting to open at 10 a.m. and close by 8 p.m. each night.
“We are playing it by ear,” Bennett said on Monday. “We are a small store and when we get busy and have 60 to 70 customers, it can be difficult to breathe, let alone get work done. A lot of people in this town come to us to buy meat. So as fast as we can put hamburger, pork chops and stuff in the meat case we are selling it. We are seeing a few of our items being stocked down on our trucks and we don’t know how long that will last. We do order through two or three different vendors, and so if we are seeing ‘stock-outs’ of items at our Save-A-Lot Warehouse we can order through a different meat delivery company.”
Bennett said other than meat, the store is not seeing a big issue on lack of grocery items. He said items such as fresh produce, including lettuce and sanitizing items like Germ-X and sanitizing wipes, have been out-of-stock three shipments in a row, and he does expect these items to continue to be out.
“But like toilet paper, I think we have done better than anyone in town keeping that in stock,” Bennett said. “The canned food stuff we are still in pretty decent shape, we actually bulked our order up and will have extra trucks coming in the next few days to try and compensate for it. All-in-all, we will run business as usual but with shorter days to keep the store in better condition for our customers. We are limiting the amounts of some products customers can buy. Other than meat and hygiene products, I don’t see us having any real issue otherwise with inventory.”
Due to recent state closures of restaurants and bars, Bennett said that Save-A-Lot could see more jobs available in the near future. He said they are expecting employees to have a bump in hours and could be looking for more staff to deal with the extra demand.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.